Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad

The Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad was an independent line that ran from Baltimore, MD to York, PA, beginning service in 1901. Meandering through the hills, it was a 77 mile long route, despite the two cities only being 45 miles apart the way a crow flies. (Right of way)

The "Champagne Special" crossing the Sharon Trestle - Sept. 14, 1947. Image: Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society.
The "Ma and Pa" as it was known informally was formed from two earlier narrow-gauge railways; The Baltimore & Delta Railway, which became the  Baltimore and Lehigh Railway, and the York and Peach Bottom Railway, which became the York Southern. As neither was profitable, they merged to combine the route into one, and re-gaugued the right of way into standard gauge.

Despite automobile competition, the railway began to be profitable post-merger, and continued to be up until the Great Depression. World War II would cement profits once again, but after the war, carloads significantly declined. In 1954, the Railway Express Agency mail contract was cancelled by the U.S. Postal Service, and at the same time, the Ma&Pa ended passenger rail. Almost all right of way in Maryland was abandoned in 1958, while industrial operations kept much of the Pennsylvania section open until 1984.

Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad 1502. Image: Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Historical Society.
About 3 miles of the old right of way is preserved between Laurel and Muddy Creek Forks, PA, as the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society operates a heritage railway along the line.

Image: The last "Ma and Pa" train departs Towson, Maryland, on June 11, 1958. Wikipedia Commons.
Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad 1506 taken in 1993. Photographer: HE Brouse

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